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Book Review

Book Cover

Pack Animals (Hardback)


Author: Peter Anghelides
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99, Cdn $14.99
ISBN: 978 1 846 07574 2
Available 02 October 2008

Shopping for wedding gifts is enjoyable, unless like Gwen you witness a Weevil massacre in the shopping centre. A trip to the zoo is a great day out, until a date goes tragically wrong and Ianto is badly injured by stolen alien tech. And Halloween is a day of fun and frights, before unspeakable monsters invade the streets of Cardiff and it's no longer a trick or a treat for the terrified population. Torchwood can control small groups of scavengers, but now someone has given large numbers of predators a season ticket to Earth. Jack's investigation is hampered when he finds he's being investigated himself. Owen is convinced that it's just one guy who's toying with them. But will Torchwood find out before it's too late that the game is horribly real, and the deck is stacked against them...?

Pack Animals is Peter Anghelides's second Torchwood book in this series - his first being Another Life. The story is set at some point during the show's second season - Owen is undead and Toshiko is still around. Gwen is about to get married, and Ianto and Jack are smitten with each other.

The story sees numerous different aliens appearing in Cardiff and causing total havoc. There's also a new card game that's starting to become popular amongst the teenagers and wargaming groups. This game features cards that depict weird and wonderful creatures - obviously the product of someone's vivid imagination. But when Torchwood gets wind of the card game, they soon realise that while these creatures names might not sound familiar, their appearance certainly is. Someone with intimate knowledge of real alien creatures may be behind everything. But who and why?

Can the appearance of the these creatures on the streets of Cardiff and this new card game be in any way related? That's just what Torchwood intend to find out.

Anghelides has been given the keys to the sweet shop. This book is bursting with creatures, old and new, and not one of them is used gratuitously. He also captures the voices of all of the main characters well.

Thank goodness Anghelides stays well away from the almost obligatory sexual content which has become so tiresome in both the show and the books. Future generations will no doubt look back on this series and yawn at Harkness's insistence on chasing anything with a pulse (and sometimes things without a pulse) in order to satisfy his sexual appetite in much the same way we roll our eyes at early Bond films in which the hero must bed every woman he meets. While there is a scene with Ianto and Jack, this is brief - even if a little unnecessary. I'm starting to wonder if it's a requirement that each book must include some tongue wrestling of some sort.

There are more twists and turns than most fans will be expecting. If you enjoy the TV series then you'll love this.


Nick Smithson

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